HL Deb 04 February 1858 vol 148 cc686-715

moved that the House do now adjourn:


My Lords, I am certainly surprised at the Motion which has just been made by the noble Lord. My Lords, considering that this is virtually the commencement of a new Session—considering that we have not before us that summary of the state of public affairs which is presented in the shape of a Speech from the Throne at the beginning of a Session—considering that two months, or nearly so, have elapsed since we last met in this House, and those months not unmarked by memorable events,—I certainly should have thought that on now meeting again, virtually on the commencement of another Session, Her Majesty's Government would have felt it their duty to volunteer a statement to this House somewhat more explicit than was given on a former occasion with regard to their intentions on various important matters. I had thought it was their duty to advert to the present position of affairs both at home and abroad. in which, although undoubtedly there is some amendment since we last met here, there is still much to excite the gravest apprehension and to call for serious and anxious consideration. It is true, my Lords, that for the moment the monetary crisis, which was the ground assigned for the meeting of Parliament in December last, has past away, that there has been a most extraordinary revulsion in the money-market, that the state of the Bank now presents a remarkable and almost unparalleled contrast to that which it assumed at the period when we last assembled in this House, and that the sudden and extraordinary alteration in the rate of interest and discount affords grounds for the serious and anxious consideration of Parliament, Undoubtedly, my Lords, the monetary crisis has passed away, and there are symptoms of great improvement in the commercial and manufacturing districts of the country; but up to the present time the labouring classes and operatives in those districts have suffered and are still suffering the most severe distress and privation, and it would have been cheering to hear some hope held out by the Government to those to whom it is but justice to say they have borne this calamity throughout with a patience and a dutiful submission that reflect the highest credit on them. But, my Lords, when we look to the state of our foreign affairs I must say that, although we have been relieved from those immediate apprehensions which were painfully entertained by every one of us with regard to the garrison of Lucknow, the aspect of affairs in India, although undoubtedly improved, still continues threatening and menacing in the highest degree. We have had to rejoice over victories and successes achieved over the enemy by comparatively small numbers of men—we have had to rejoice over the gallantry and endurance and almost superhuman efforts of our troops on repeated occasions—and we have had many other causes for congratulation afforded by the conduct of our brave army in India; but all these were, to a certain extent, marred by the deep feeling of regret that, to the long list of heroes who have fallen in their country's cause we had to add the name of that illustrious man who unhappily died in the hour of victory, and died, too, without the gratification of knowing the honours which a greatful country had conferred upon him, or hearing how his country appreciated his brilliant and heroic achievements. My Lords, I believe that when the news of this painful event arrived there was not a heart in England that did not feel it to be a subject for private as well as public mourning. My Lords, while we speak of him and of the many that have fallen, let me, however, speak of the many that remain; and I think it is but due to them and to ourselves that we should take the earliest opportunity of expressing our deep sense of the great exertions, the signal valour, the happy mixture of exemplary prudence and distinguished talent, and the military skill which have characterized the victories of the gallant veteran Sir Colin Campbell. My Lords, it is not too much to say that that gallant officer's recent achievements have vindicated, if not raised the high reputation which this country formerly enjoyed in our Indian empire. But, my Lords, I pray you to look even now, in the midst of our partial successes, at the position in which we are still struggling in India. Do not flatter yourselves that you have succeeded in putting down the revolt. You have achieved great successes; you have scattered the troops that have appeared against you—wherever you met them you scattered them—but you have still before you a task of unparalleled magnitude, and most inadequate means with which to accomplish it. At this moment I do not believe Sir Colin Campbell, for any one distinct operation, could muster 10,000 men under arms; and I am morally certain that nearly double the force now in India would not be too much to enable us to re-establish our empire there, and to restore peace. Now, I say, with inadequate means, even numerically, you have to accomplish this task; but I must call your Lordships' attention to the manner in which this number is maintained in India. I have heard more than one officer state it as his distinct opinion that the successes which we have achieved in India would have been doubled, trebled, and even quadrupled, if we had had at a sufficiently early period an adequate amount of cavalry to make good what the infantry had commenced, and so far as in them lay accomplished. But although on every occasion the infantry fought against an unheard-of disparity of numbers, and gained victories against those numerically superior forces, still at the last moment—in the hour of victory—there was no cavalry to pursue the fugitives, and so completely vanquish the rebel army. My Lords, we see the effects of this. One day we are told that all the guns of a certain enemy have been captured, but in a few days more we receive the report of the capture of more guns than the same enemy was said to have had in the first instance. We are told one day that the enemy had twenty-one guns; we next read of the capture of twenty-seven; and in a few days more we are informed of the capture of the "remainder of the guns." This question of cavalry and horses for the artillery was constantly pressed on the attention of the Government by my noble Friend on my right (the Earl of Ellenborough). Now, what have been sent out? You have sent out a considerable number of guns, which are perhaps the things least wanted in India, but you have not sent out well-trained gunners, for you had them not; nor have you sent out horses or harness, and the consequence is that your guns are utterly and entirely useless. I well recollect my noble Friend (the Earl of Ellenborough), when Her Majesty's Government announced their intention of sending out artillery, pressing the question whether their horses were to be sent with them; but no answer was given to that inquiry; and I have been told that to such straits are you reduced in India for the want of horses that a number of three-year old unbroken mares have been taken into the service from the breeding stud of the Company. Again, I would beg the earliest attention of your Lordships to the necessity of keeping up a continual stream of reinforcement of the small army now in India. Now, even to maintain that army on its present footing would require 1,500 men a month, or 18,000 a year. I do not believe you are raising recruits at that rate, and the men you are sending out are raw recruits, mere boys, upon whom disease will commit frightful havoc when they first land in India. Now, I do earnestly entreat Her Majesty's Government to take this question into their earnest and immediate consideration, to strip this country of all the available force it possesses, and to intrust its own defence at home to its militia, the whole of which they have been repeatedly entreated and implored to embody. My Lords, if I thought the embodiment of the whole militia would interfere with the recruiting for the army I should be the last person to recommend such a course; but it is, in my belief, the best mode of providing for the internal protection of the country, and would enable you to send out, not raw boys, but trained men to reinforce the army in India. There is another point to which I would ask attention for a single moment, and that is to repeat a suggestion which I ventured to offer to your Lordships during the Crimean war—namely, that I firmly believe if due encouragement were given and proper steps taken you might without difficulty raise for the service of this country five or six regiments among our colonial possessions. Your Lordships must understand that I do not mean regiments for colonial service merely. I believe that in the North American colonies, and possibly in the Australian colonies, you may find men perfectly willing to form corps for the general service of this country, provided they were to be all officered as well as manned from the colony in which they were raised, and provided also that they are placed in all respects on the footing of the British army, and differ in no respects from the regular forces of the Crown, except by a system of relief by which they would be permitted to have their period of home service in the colonies in which they were raised, instead of in this country. I do not know whether the suggestion was worth anything or not, but we certainly are in such a state of circumstances that it is necessary for us to provide for our home defences, and not to strip needlessly this country of all troops in order to give to our army in India those reinforcements which are so requisite for the duties it has to perform. Well really, my Lords, it makes one angry to think that at the moment when we are suffering from the disorders in India, when we need the services of every man that can possibly be spared for that country, there are fifty ships, with 560 or 570 guns and a considerable number of seamen and soldiers, idling, and worse than idling, in that other miserable war in which we are engaged in another quarter. I confess that I look upon that war with more apprehension than even I do on the state of India, because I do not see the end to which we are driving, or, indeed, any end that can by possibility be attained. Here we are in the midst of two wars, for neither of which had we made the slightest preparation, one of which took us absolutely by surprise, and the other has been brought on by the intolerable absurdity of our own Government, and yet we are wasting our forces in two distant parts of the globe, while in neither have we a sufficient force to carry into effect our avowed intentions. We were told when we last met that Lord Elgin was going to Pekin to negotiate direct with the Emperor, supported by an armed force; but it now appears that that idea has been abandoned, and it was intended with the small force we have at present in the Chinese waters to attack the vast and populous city of Canton. I think it very likely that attack will succeed, and that we may destroy the city; but when we have done that we shall not, I apprehend, be one whit nearer to the attainment of any of our objects in China. Indeed, we shall be further off, for if we take possession of Canton, we must hold it, and to hold it, even if we have no ulterior objects, we shall have to provide an amount of force which we can very ill spare. By taking Canton we shall not have advanced towards the settlement of the Chinese dispute, but our destruction of a great and populous city may create a reaction against us, and excite feelings which may lead to our expulsion, eventually, from the other ports of China. And to carry on this miserable war we have been obliged to withhold the means of successfully operating in India, and to cripple the home defences of the country. My Lords, there is another and a very different subject, upon which I certainly expected Her Majesty's Government would have said something upon the present occasion. It cannot be denied that the recent atrocious attempt to assassinate the Emperor of the French has produced in France a most painful feeling with respect to this country. It cannot be denied either that accusations have been made against us, utterly unfounded, indeed, but which the malice of the enemies of this country in France have deeply impressed upon the minds of that susceptible people. I allude to the use of language and the utterance of sentiments, which, undoubtedly, if they proceeded from parties entitled to our respect, would go little to conciliate good feeling in this country, considering the position in which we now stand. It is not in France alone that extraordinary language has been used. We had a specimen of some rather curious oratory, from so distinguished a personage as the First Lord of the Treasury, some time ago; and in the use of dignified bluster we find persons in France who have equalled, if not surpassed the noble Viscount himself. But I do not think that the imprudent and disgraceful language which has been held upon this subject should induce us to shut our eyes to the fact that these accusations, however unjust, and these imputations, however unfounded, may have the effect of alienating from the people of this country the friendly regards of a considerable portion of the population of France, and I think that the earliest opportunity ought to have been taken by Her Majesty's Government to disabuse the minds of the people of that country, and to explain to them the real state of what is called popularly the refugee question. My Lords, if there is one offence which is utterly revolting and repugnant to the feelings of every Englishman, if there be one crime that is looked upon with universal abhorrence in this country—if there be one crime the perpetrator of which is shut out from all hope of sympathy and protection from any human being in this kingdom, and in regard to which crime, the moment it is committed the sympathy of every man, woman, and child, is on the side of justice, and for the conviction of the offender, it is the crime of secret assassination. My Lords, I am convinced that to any man with an English heart to whom a proposal should be made to get rid of even his bitterest enemy by means of secret assassination, the first impulse would be to strike to the earth the man who proposed so base a crime. But when the offence is not to be committed against a bitter foe, but against one who has proved himself to be a firm friend of this country, one whose life I do not hesitate to gay is of infinite value and vital importance to the friendly relations between this country and France, as well as to the maintenance of peace and good order throughout Europe, then the crime is of still greater atrocity, especially when the assassins in their eager recklessness to destroy the object of their enmity, do not hesitate to sacrifice the lives of a concourse of unoffending spectators and imperil the innocent wife of the may against whose life they are aiming—then I say, the feeling of indignation agains the cowardly crime of assassination which is ever raised in this country is on this occasion of no ordinary character; but that crime excites a tenfold deeper indignation when perpetrated under circum stances such as these. It makes the blood of an honest Englishman boil to find that any one is so deluded, so infatuated, so embittered by hostility to this country a to be persuaded into at belief that English men, forsooth, connived at and sanctioned such an atrocity. Undoubtedly, there are persons in France who have used language in reference to this country which deprives them of the right of asking for any explanation from us in respect to our conduct; but, my Lords, I do not think it a matter of indifference that there should be a want of friendly feeling between the two countries through the want of a clear apprehension of the state of our affairs—I do not gay between the Governments, for that I do not believe, but between the people of the two countries. With regard to the late most lamentable and most disgraceful attempt, I say that under no circumstances could any charge of a want of due precaution or watchfulness be sustained against this country. Admit for a moment—which I never can—that it was the duty of this country to drive from our shores men who might be suspected of entertaining hostile intentions towards foreign Sovereigns; still, even with that admission, I venture to say that the most rigid enforcement of any law would not have enabled us to interfere with the chief conspirator while residing here. What was Pierri? He was a man who for some years had been living at Birmingham as a peaceful citizen, earning his livelihood by the honest pursuit of a teacher of languages; he was not known to belong to any dangerous conspiracy, nor to be mixed up with any one engaged in secret plots. As long as Pierri remained in Birmingham he was perfectly safe and inoffensive—neither the object of suspicion nor of danger. But then it has been said, "Why did you allow him to leave Birmingham and go to France?" My Lords, it was no part of our business to prevent him; we are not to perform the office of gaolers. In this country every man is free to go and come when, where, and how he pleases, as long as he is guilty of no offence against our laws. But I must say if any lesson is to be drawn from the manner in which the late abominable attempt became so nearly successful, and was only baffled by a special interposition of Providence, that lesson demonstrates most fully the utter inutility of the vexatious system of passports. It has long been the rule at the Foreign Office of this country only to grant passports to our own subjects. The danger arising from Pierri arose, not from his presence in England, but from his landing in France. How did he obtain the means of getting there? Why, my Lords, he obtained a passport to enter Belgium, not with the connivance or assistance of the British Government, but, I believe, with one signed by the French Vice Consul in Birmingham. Well, he proceeded to Belgium, and, I believe, the police of that country, who knew him, gave notice to the French Government that he was in Belgium and on his way to Paris. To Paris he went, and there, and not in Birmingham, he remained for a week completing his arrangements for the meditated crime, and employed in consultation with his coconspirators. The plot might have been devised in England, but in the French capital it was carried into execution—and carried into execution, too, by persons who had arrived there by means of passports furnished to them by a French Vice Consul, and who conducted their proceedings in the very face of that which we have been accustomed to regard as a most vigilant and active police, but which we must, I think, now consider to be a body upon which no great credit is reflected by the circumstance that they permitted this atrocious attempt at assassination to reach a point so fearfully near to success. So far as the case of Pierri is concerned, therefore, I maintain that whatever may be the state of the law in this country there was no neglect upon our part, and that we had it in our power to take no step which could afford to the Emperor of the French that security which I think he had a right to expect from the exercise of greater caution upon the part of his own Vice Consul in the granting of passports, and from the vigilance of his police. Passing for a moment, however, from this individual case, I think it my duty frankly to state that it is perfectly well known that there are in this country men who entertain the most dangerous designs. It has, nevertheless, my Lords, at no time been the policy of England—and I hope it never will be—to punish men for mere designs and intentions unaccompanied by any indications of action, and the existence of which is unsustained by any producible evidence. There are many foreigners who are here certainly not in accordance with our desire, some not even in conformity with their own wish, but because they have no other resting place for the soles of their feet; and those men do, no doubt, consult and combine together with the view of carrying into effect projects the most dangerous and the most criminal. So long, however, as they go no further than the forming of mere projects on laws are somewhat jealous of any inter- ference taking place in their regard. But it would, my Lords, be idle to endeavour to conceal from ourselves that it has been sought to convey to the sensitive minds of the French people the impression that such persons as I have described are kept here as it were in the leash, under the guardianship of England, to be let loose at any moment at which our Government may feel disposed, for its own objects, to create political disturbances in other States. Now, my Lords, I cannot but deem it right that, under these circumstances, the people of this country, as well as of France, should be undeceived, and should be made aware of the real position in which matters stand. I repeat, then, in the presence of my noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, that there are in England men who entertain those dangerous designs to which I have adverted. I go farther, and assert that those men are known to, and, so far as our repugnance to any system of surveillance will permit, are under the observation of the police, I must, however, add that, so far from its being true that we keep those men here for the purpose of plotting against the lives of foreign Sovereigns, it has at all times been considered the bounden duty of the Government of this country, if any such dangerous designs came to its knowledge, to give the Sovereign whose life may in consequence be endangered the most timely warning, so that he might be placed upon his guard against those criminal machinations. I will, moreover, venture to express it as my positive conviction that the Emperor of the French has, upon more than one occasion, been mainly indebted for his safety to the friendly intimation which has been conveyed to him of the dangerous designs of persons such as those whom we are now charged with harbouring for the purpose of instigating them to the commission of the most heinous of crimes. I think it is but right it should be known to the French people that such men are watched by the Government of England; and that, so far as the laws of the country permit us to go, their nefarious designs are counteracted by the vigilance of a police which, although it may not make so much noise, is, I believe, fully as effective as the police of France. I also deem it right that Her Majesty's Government should seize upon the earliest opportunity to give expression to the views which they entertain upon this subject, inasmuch as it is one with regard to which a great deal of misapprehension, calculated, if not removed, to do mischief, prevails; and, inasmuch as it is one to which public attention has of late been very earnestly directed, I think it is of the utmost importance that we should hear from Her Majesty's Ministers, without delay, whether they intend to take any steps in consequence of the atrocious attempt which has just been made upon the life of the French Emperor—any steps which, even though they should afford no effectual security for the protection of the lives of foreign Sovereigns, may serve at least to indicate the goodwill towards France which exists upon the part of the English people, and which may show that we are prepared to do everything which may fairly be expected at our hands. Now, my Lords, I say without hesitation that, not for the security of the Sovereign of France, or of all the Sovereigns of Europe twenty times over, would I consent to violate, in the slightest degree, that sacred right of asylum to foreigners by which our history has always been characterized. Of the advantages of that asylum men of all political shades of opinion have ever freely partaken. By many of them it has, I regret to say, been most shamefully and ungratefully abused; and I do not hesitate to add that such men are guilty of a serious crime against the world, and against humanity, inasmuch as they imperil by the suspicions which their conduct raises against her, the land which, in the hour of their distress, has held out to them—and which holds out to all who are similarly situate—a place of refuge and protection. But, not because of the crimes of those people, nor because of any consequences which may flow from them, would I for one consent to destroy, or even to relax, that privilege of asylum which England affords to all those who do not act in direct disobedience to her laws. There is also another measure which I am sure no Government would propose, and which, even if they did, I feel convinced no Parliament would sanction—that is, that any man should be punished upon mere suspicion or notoriety in this country, and not upon evidence brought against him in the face of day. If, my Lords, the people of France are unreasonable enough to expect such a sacrifice of feeling and constitutional principle upon the part of the English nation, they are lamentably mistaken; and, however I may regret that ill will should for a moment be engendered between them and us, all such considerations must yield to the preservation in its perfect integrity of that vital principle to which I have just referred. But, while I maintain that no person ought to be punished in this country except upon clear evidence of his guilt, I am disposed to think it is a question well worthy of the attention of the Government how far the laws at present in existence can be put in force for the prevention of offences of the heinous nature to which I have been alluding. I do not presume to express any opinion as to the specific measures which may be introduced with the view of striking somewhat more of terror into the minds of the persons by whom such crimes are contemplated, and for the purpose of making manifest to the sensitive people of France the sincerity of our expression of goodwill in their regard; but I may nevertheless give utterance to the hope that her Majesty's Ministers may be able to see their way to the framing of some law which may prove effectual for the suppression of those attempts at assassination while it does not infringe upon the vital principles of the constitution. To the enactment of such a measure as that Parliament would, I feel assured, be prepared to give a cheerful assent. Now, my Lords, I thought it expedient as a member of this House wholly unconnected with the Government—Her Majesty's Ministers not having deemed it to be their duty to offer any expression of opinion upon the subject—to seize this the first opportunity which presents itself to advert to the late atrocious attempt upon the life of the Emperor of the French, and to state the views with respect to it which I entertain. I feel a deep interest in the continuance of the life of that monarch, and I attach the utmost importance to the maintenance of a good understanding, not only between the Sovereigns of England and France, but between the people of the two countries. It is, in my opinion, of the greatest moment to France that her present ruler should long remain at the head of her Government—a Government of which I will say nothing more than that I believe it to be that which at the present moment is best suited to the feelings, the habits, and the opinions of the French nation. These being my sentiments, I deemed it desirable that I should do all that in me lay to remove any misapprehension or misconception with respect to England from the minds of the people of that country. I am also anxious to learn from Her Majesty's Government how far they concur with me in the general principles which I have just laid down. I do not ask them to pledge themselves to any particular measure. I simply seek to know how far they are disposed, notwithstanding the imprudent and irritating language of those whose conduct well merits, if we were inclined to retaliate upon them, that we should refuse to take any steps whatsoever for the prevention of those plots for the future—how far, I say, they are disposed to afford every possible security for the protection of the lives of foreign Princes against the abominable crime of assassination. I should be glad to hear that Her Majesty's Ministers are prepared to declare whether the existing laws are adequate to that end, and, if not, whether they might not be so amended as to meet, wholly unconnected with any political consideration whatever, such a crime as that of which I have been speaking—a crime so heinous in itself, and so revolting to every feeling of humanity.


I can imagine nothing which would have more surprised your Lordships, or be more contrary to all precedent, than for a Minister to rise immediately upon the meeting of the House after an adjournment of two months, and make a general essay upon matters political. I shall therefore only touch shortly upon some of those points upon which the noble Earl opposite thinks that I ought to have given some explanation to the House. First, with regard to the monetary state of this country:—it really appears to me that it would have been a most extraordinary intrusion on my part—considering we met before Christmas to discuss this question, considering, too, the great improvement which had taken place in monetary matters before we separated, and that that improvement has continued up to the present moment—had I started up the moment we reassembled, either to give any opinion of my own as to banking, or to state facts which are probably notorious to every one in the House. The noble Earl opposite has expressed surprise that I did not anticipate my noble Friend (Lord Panmure), who one minute before had given notice that no later than Monday next it was his intention to move a Vote of Thanks to that army on whose brilliant feats and whose claims to the gratitude of their country not only he, but every noble Lord in this House, will then have an opportunity of expressing an opinion. It would have been childish in me us well as im proper, to anticipate the task which will fall upon my noble Friend. Next, the noble Earl thinks I ought to have imagined the attacks which he was about to make upon the Government in regard to the way in which matters have been conducted in India. My Lords, when the proper time comes my noble Friend (Lord Panmure) will be able to enter into all the details touched upon by the noble Earl, and will show, I hope satisfactorily, that we have not been remiss in sending our troops, that we have not been remiss in furnishing the means of reinforcing those troops in the field, and that even with regard to the great difficulty known to exist in the supply of horses, the orders sent out from here and the exertions of the authorities in India have overcome that difficulty to a much greater extent than could possibly have been expected. Respecting such small details as the want of harness, I believe my noble Friend will be able to show that the statement of the noble Earl opposite is exactly contrary to the facts. But I will not trouble the House by dwelling upon all the small matters of detail into which the noble Earl entered. Then your Lordships were told that we are at war with two countries, though, as he said, we were perfectly unprepared with the means of carrying on war with either. Now, really with regard to India, to say that we were not prepared for that war is to make a perfectly unreasonable accusation. Was anybody prepared—could anybody have been prepared—for the Indian mutiny? As to the Chinese war, I utterly deny the fact that we were unprepared. Subsequent experience has shown that, so far from not having been sufficiently prepared, the actual preparations made were, we have reason to believe, greater than would have been sufficient. The force originally intended for China was diverted for the purposes of India, and yet, at this moment, without, I believe, drawing on the resources in our hands for he prosecution of the war in India, we lope (though that question will be settled by the event) that we have in China a force quite strong enough to carry out the objects we have in view. But the noble Earl says our policy there is all wrong. It may be; but it has been debated in this House and in another place; it will be a fit subject for debate again and again; it was discussed by the two principal parties in the State, and the question after that debate was referred to the country at large, who gave the most triumphant verdict in favour of Her Majesty's Government. Does the noble Earl pretend that, after such a verdict from the country, the Government who inaugurated the policy in question would have been justified in retreating entirely from it? Does he pretend that we should have been justified in leaving the points of dispute in statu quo, and in remaining passive under the insults offered us, no compensation of any kind having been given for the outrages which have been committed? Then the noble Earl passed to another subject. He professed some surprise that I had not alluded to an event of great importance—namely, the late attempt made on the life of the Emperor of the French. Now, it certainly would have been a most agreeable task either for me, or for any one of us on this bench, to take the very earliest opportunity to express our abhorrence, not only as members of the Government, not only as members of this House, but as Englishmen, of attempts such as these to obtain political objects by that most dastardly of all crimes, assassination. It would have been equally agreeable to us to express our joy and satisfaction that, although, unfortunately, many individuals were either killed or hurt by this most nefarious attempt, the lives of the Emperor and Empress were saved, as the noble Earl said, by almost a miraculous interposition. But, my Lords, I believe it would have been a course entirely unprecedented for me or any other Minister to start up and make such a declaration at this time, without absolutely any question being before the House. The noble Earl also thought we might have given some statement of the course which the Government is ready to take with regard to what has passed in France. Now, certainly no one can regret more than we do some of those intemperate addresses, founded on a total misapprehension of the feelings of the people of this country, which have been issued by officers under the excitement caused by seeing their chief's life attempted. I might, perhaps, express some regret that any publicity has been given to these addresses. But I do feel, as I am sure every one must feel who has calmly reflected on the subject, that it would be perfectly unworthy of a great nation like this, on account of intemperate expressions which may have emanated from parties in another State, not to have taken that course which they thought right abstractedly, apart from all other considerations. I am glad to hear from the noble Earl so clear a statement of his views as to the impossibility of this country ever giving up those rights which are so dear to us as Englishmen—that right especially, which is our boast and our pride, of offering a refuge and hospitality to persons of all countries, whatever their political or personal opinions may be. Still more impossible, and still more criminal would it be, I think, for any Government to propose measures which tended to abridge the personal liberty either of Englishmen or of foreigners who have the happiness to live in this country. If, however, as the noble Earl remarks, by an examination of our laws, which we had always flattered ourselves were sufficient, any defects are found, I say it is our duty as soon as possible, to attempt to remove those defects. It is not usual in one House to give notice of any measures which are likely to be originated in the other; but I may, perhaps, take this opportunity of informing your Lordships that a measure on this subject will be brought into the other House of Parliament without delay—indeed, I am informed that notice of its introduction has already been given, and that the Bill will be brought forward on Monday next. Of course, it would be improper in me to give any statements of its enactments; but I trust that this Bill will be found to meet all the requirements of the case. My Lords, although, perhaps, the attack just made upon us was a little gratuitous, I can only express my gratification that it has given to the noble Earl opposite an opportunity of stating certain principles with regard to our laws on this subject, in which I fully concur; and of expressing his resolution—in which I am sure all Englishmen will agree—to surrender none of our rights and privileges, while, at the same time, we will take all means in our power to prevent the dastardly crime of conspiring to assassinate or murder.


My Lords, I confess that I, like my noble Friend behind me, was surprised at the apparent intention of the noble Earl opposite to dismiss the House on this the first night of their meeting after the adjournment in solemn silence, without at all enlightening your Lordships as to the business which is to be brought forward in this Session of Parliament, which appears to me to be fraught with as many important topics for discussion as any to which we ever looked forward. I am not now-going to waste the time of the House by re-opening the China question, although I must say that I am quite ignorant of the new Parliament having at any time expressed any opinion upon the China war. The noble Earl (Earl Granville), said, that a verdict in favour of that war had been given by the country. I challenge him to tell me on what day and in which House of Parliament any opinion has been given by any majority of either House in favour of that war. But if I know and can at all appreciate the good sense of my countrymen, I may infer that, looking to the state of affairs in India, and to the great want of troops both there and at home, both the Houses of Parliament and the country besides would be heartily glad if we had never entered into the contest with China. In submitting to your Lordships the several topics of great interest likely to be discussed, my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby), I think, forgot one inferior to none of those which are likely, during the present Session, to occupy the attention of Parliament. I should like to know whether it is true, as is so reported, that it is the intention of the Government completely to abolish the double government of India, and to bring in a Bill for the alteration of the government of that country without delay. I cannot of course go into that question now; but if such is the intention of Government, I must say that I deprecate with all my might and power the policy they are prepared to pursue. I cannot conceive anything so dangerous as at the present crisis—in the middle of a rebellion which is only half suppressed—to meddle with the government of that great empire. I do not mean to say that that Government requires no reform, or that the double government is better than any other system which could be adopted; but I contend that it is most foolish and fatal to bring forward a new scheme of administration for India when that country is disturbed from one end to the other. If one of your Lordships' houses were in flames, would you, before the fire was extinguished, send for an architect to plan, a new building? And yet that is very much like what it is said Her Majesty's Government intend to do. I hope to hear that the rumour is unfounded as to the time at which they are to be carried ink execution, if not as to the ultimate intentions of the Government. While I am upon this subject, I wish to say that I was not a little astonished at a statement which appeared yesterday in The Times newspaper, emanating from the Indian Fund Committee, and declaring that no mutilations of women had taken place during the recent outbreak in India. I wish that such were really the case; but I cannot understand what can be the object of the announcement to which I refer. If the statement were true, it only amounts to this—that after committing every possible atrocity, and inflicting every possible torture, the Sepoys had the humanity to put an end to the existence of their victims, instead of leaving them to live in the miserable condition to which they had been reduced. If, however, the statement is not true—and it is not true—its only effect is uselessly to inflict another bitter pang upon the relations of those who have been the victims of Sepoy cruelty. If any of your Lordships doubt that the horrible mutilations which have been described have taken place, I may state that I am in a position to give them privately references to authorities who will satisfy them that such atrocities have been committed; and I am quite ready to afford the same information to any members of the Committee of the Indian Fund. I can only say that if the Governor General of India or others who are near him are ignorant of these acts, and have stated by letter or otherwise that such occurrences have not taken place, they have been grossly deceived. It requires very little knowledge of human nature and of woman's mind to enable one to understand that persons of high authority in Calcutta, or the Committee of the Indian Fund, are the very last persons to whom unfortunate ladies who have been subjected to mutilation are likely to appeal for assistance. It is, in fact, the knowledge of the cruelties and indignities which have been inflicted on our unhappy countrywomen which have nerved our soldiers with that superhuman strength to which my noble Friend has referred. It was no dry sense of military duty, no mere aspiration for military glory, which gave Havelock and his gallant soldiers that irresistible power which enabled them to defeat overwhelming numbers; it was the fierce and passionate conviction that they were the delegated avengers of the wrongs committed upon their unfortunate countrywomen.


stated, that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Govern- ment to bring in a Bill for the better Government of India.


As the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) seems to have been so much misinformed with regard to the manner in which reinforcements have been sent out to India, I think it right that his statement should not go forth without some explanation from me. It is quite true that the first detachment of artillery sent out to the East Indies were sent without their guns, without their horses, without their harness. I was myself struck with the manner in which it was proposed to despatch this force, and I sent to the Court of Directors to learn whether, when artillery were demanded by the Company, as by law they might be demanded, and were sent out without equipments, the Company were ready upon their arrival in Calcutta to furnish them with guns and horses, and to equip them for the field. The answer I received was that everything would be prepared. By the time the next detachment was demanded the Court of Directors had found out, I presume, that their stores were not in the state they had expected, and the artillery then sent out were not only supplied with guns, equipments, and harness, but to every gun I sent out a double set of harness, in order that a supply of harness might be provided for any guns that were found serviceable in India, but for which there might be no harness there. Yet the noble Earl states deliberately and publicly, without having taken pains to ascertain the fact, that the artillery were sent out from this country without guns and equipments. Then, with reference to the troops sent out to supply the vacancies in the various corps, I may state that in the artillery force there was not a man who was not a well-trained soldier, and no recruits were sent out to the regiments of the line who had not so far advanced in their training as at least to have gone through a course of practice with the Minie rifle. Indeed, I may tell the noble Earl that the recruits recently sent out to India are as far superior as it is possible to conceive to the recruits furnished to the Duke of Wellington during the great wars he carried on in the Peninsula. The noble Earl has complained that horses were not sent out to India; but I think, upon a little reflection, he will see that the risk of sending horses from this country, either by the long voyage round the Cape or overland by Alexandria and Suez to Cal- cutta, would have been very great. We were not, however, indifferent to the importance of providing horses for service in India, and I must do the Court of Directors the justice to say that they, as well as their officers, in all directions exerted themselves to the utmost to procure a supply of horses, and that their efforts were attended with a degree of success which had not been anticipated. Indeed, it is probable that a sufficient number of horses will be obtained from the Cape, from Australia, and from the countries adjoining our Indian possessions, to mount the cavalry we have sent out. I may add also that no demand has been made by the Court of Directors upon Her Majesty's Government or the military authorities for reinforcements which has not been immediately complied with. There is at this moment a constant stream of 1,000 recruits per month flowing into India; and if that addition to our force should be insufficient I believe the recruiting service is in such a satisfactory state as to enable us even to increase the number. Under these circumstances I thought it right to address a few words to your Lordships merely with reference to the condition of our army in India. The noble Earl has referred to a suggestion he made to the Government, but of which I have no recollection, that steps should be taken for raising regiments in our colonies. I may state, however, that we are at present engaged in raising a regiment in Canada, to be called the 100th Regiment, and to be added to the regiments of the line; and I have sent instructions to the governors of our colonies to enlist in the service of the Queen all British-born white subjects who may be willing to serve in India.


inquired whether it was intended that these regiments should not only be raised in the colonies, but officered by colonists? That was a point of the greatest possible importance as regards the connection between the colonies and the mother country.


replied that it was intended that such regiments should, to a great extent, be officered by colonists.


I have heard with great satisfaction the explanations of the noble Lord (Lord Panmure), and I am glad to find that Her Majesty's Government are alive to the extreme importance and the great difficulty of meeting the demand for men to maintain the strength of our forces in India. For my own part, I have not the information which would enable me to express an opinion in favour of or against the arrangements they have made; but I confess that, so far as I am at present informed, I must differ from the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) as to what he said with reference to the embodying of our whole militia force. My belief is that the embodied militia act directly as competitors with the line in the matter of recruiting; and I think my noble Friend the Secretary for War would take a wise course if he would endeavour to dispel the misapprehensions which, in my opinion, exist on this subject by allowing a Committee of this House to inquire how far the militia were serviceable as a means of recruiting the army during the late war with Russia. As far as I am able to form an opinion from an examination of the papers laid before this House, I entertain a very strong conviction that if such an investigation were made it would be found that during the late contest with Russia the militia proved the most expensive and inefficient mode of raising men that could possibly have been adopted. Whatever may be the arrangements of the Government, there can be no doubt that the noble Earl opposite is right in contending that this country will have great difficulty in meeting the demands for men which will be made upon us from India; because we must not suppose that for a very considerable time to come we shall be free from continual demands for the maintenance of our forces in that part of the world; and I must repeat the opinion expressed by the noble Earl, that in such a state of things it was as impolitic as I deem it to have been wrong and immoral that we should have plunged into a new war with China. I can conceive nothing more mischievous than beginning at such a moment a contest in that country, of which no man can foresee the end; because, as the noble Lord truly observed, assuming Canton to be taken, then your difficulties only begin. Are you to hold Canton? If you do so, here is another drain of men opened, and we know that there is no station in the whole world in which British troops suffer so much as in China. I can state from my own knowledge that during the former Chinese war, and during the period we have occupied Hong Kong, that no climate in the world, not excepting that of the West Indies, causes, taking the whole year round, such a consumption of men. Well, if you take Canton you must hold it. The evil is that when once you are in the wrong course every new step only leads to new difficulties. You say you are bound to take this course, because by the most improper conduct of Sir John Bowring you were plunged into an unnecessary contest with the Chinese, and you do not think it would be dignified to draw back; and so you go on, without right or reason on your side, inflicting destruction on the lives and properties of the innocent people of Canton. And, when you have got that town, what is to he done? If the Chinese content themselves with allowing you to take the town and refusing to make terms, are you to go on? Every new step will make it more difficult to stop or go back, and at the same time every new step in advance is rendered more difficult, if not impracticable, by the various demands on us for forces. This is not the time for debating this question; but I cannot help saying it does appear to me something almost unexampled in Parliamentary history that we are now actually engaged in a war with China and no authentic declarations have yet been made to Parliament or to the world for what objects the contest is going on. All we know is that when the subject was discussed your Lordships' House, by no very large majority, refused to condemn the proceedings in which the war originated, and that the other House did condemn them. Since then there have been no further explanations, and Parliament is uninformed for what we are now going to fight, or for what objects these hostilities are now carried on. We learn from the newspapers, and from the newspapers only, that one of the objects is to call on the Chinese to pay for damages done to English merchants by the late proceedings at Canton. If that be true, I think the demand is as impolitic and as unprincipled as any demand ever made by a great country on a helpless opponent. If such a demand were made by Russia on Turkey, or some such State, we in this country should condemn it as one man; and if such a demand is really to be made on China it is impossible, in my mind, to stigmatize it too strongly; and I think it as impolitic as wrong, for be assured there is much force in what was said on a former occasion by a noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ellenborough) who observed that a great deal of this evil had arisen from the demand for compensation to merchants made in the last war, though they received an advantage from the increased value given to their com- modities by the war; and by the demand for compensation, that unhappy war, on which no one can look back without blushing, is turned into a direct source of profit; and nothing could be more impolitic than to give to persons in that situation an interest in engaging this country in war.


said, that he wished to direct their Lordships' attention to two points. With respect to what had fallen from different noble Lords regarding India he had not a word to add, except to express his deep regret to find his noble Friend near him of opinion that though the danger is over the affairs in India are not yet nearly settled. If that were so—and to a certain degree he was afraid he must admit it—if, though the crisis is over, there is yet on hand more work in that part of the world—to say nothing of the addition of China—but if in India, in Central India—in Oude, for instance—the operations now undertaken were by no means finished, he could not but express amazement when he learned that such a time should be chosen for bringing forward a large and most important measure—neither more nor less than a plan for the final settlement, as it was hoped to be, of our Indian Government, and of the relations between the Indian and. Imperial Councils, and between the Indian and Imperial Governments together, and the proprietary body. That was a subject of great difficulty and no small complexity, involving, as it did, the largest interests, and he ventured to say that it had better be undertaken and settled at a time when all the operations of war were at an end, and when the whole subject might be calmly, deliberately, and with entire circumspection examined. The other matter on which he was about to address their Lordships related to a recent event in France—unhappy in one sense, and in another sense the most fortunate and providential, as it resulted in the escape of the French Emperor and his family—the escape of the Emperor and his capital, of France, of this country, and of all Europe—from that most execrable attempt, with the risk of murdering hundreds, and with the certainty of wounding large bodies of the people, in order to take away that life so invaluable both for the peace of France and for the peace of Europe, and, he would add, for the peace of the world. Nevertheless, the result was that the beginning of an irritation had been produced in France, in consequence of the alarm in which people had been thrown. And, as fear was always the worst of counsellors, generally giving rash counsel, and not unfrequently cruel, the effect had been that degree of exasperation to which his noble Friend had alluded, coupled with an entire ignorance in many quarters of the whole bearing of the subject as regards this country. In saying this, he adverted to the requisitions he had seen calling for things which in this country are impossible under the law, and for other things which the state of the law rendered altogether superfluous. When he found that publications were complained of, not only extenuating but justifying assassination, and actually going so far as to lament the failure of plots for that purpose—publications previous to the late execrable attempt, and referring to former crimes of a similar nature—when he heard these publications complained of, and a clamour raised abroad for new laws in this country, his answer was that the law was sufficient as it now stood; that it was unlawful by the established law of the land for any man to publish provocations to murder and assassination, or a practical defence of murder and assassination, and that he would be punishable, he (Lord Brougham) apprehended, for a misdemeanour in so doing, and would be most severely dealt with by the Court which tried the offence. Again, if instead of a general panegyric of those enormous offences a man should limit his approval to a particular attack upon a foreign Prince, or were to point out or indicate a particular individual as an object of murderous attack, whether a Prince or not, there was not the least doubt but that he could be dealt with by the English Courts. He remembered that a libel against the Emperor Napoleon, then First Consul, was prosecuted in this country. He believed in that libel assassination was recommended. However, a prosecution took place, and a conviction was had; Peltier was convicted, and then war broke out; but that person, he thought most improperly, was not brought up for punishment. He had often discussed the matter in private with Lord Sidmouth, and had always expressed to him his belief that the man should have been brought up for judgment and severely punished. There were, no doubt, circumstances of extenuation in the case, and these would have been urged with ability before the Court by his counsel; but, notwithstanding all the efforts of counsel, he had no doubt that punishment would have been inflicted. It would probably have been contended that the libel was written before the peace, but he (Lord Brougham) held that it was even more requisite to bring him to punishment after the war broke out afresh than before. Their Lordships would no doubt recollect the case of "Gilbert v. Sykes," which was decided by the Court of King's Bench in 1812. One of the parties in that case had given the other £100 on condition of receiving a guinea a day as long as Napoleon Bonaparte lived. The payment was claimed, and the case ultimately came before the Court on a rule for a new trial, and all the points were raised and fully argued. He (Lord Brougham) was counsel in the case, and he well remembered that the Court, which was presided over by the celebrated Lord Chief Justice (Ellenborough) decided in the most unequivocal manner that it was an immoral and, therefore, illegal contract, because it led to an encouragement of the crime of assassination. One argument in favour of the claim was, that it could only lead to the assassination of an enemy, for Napoleon was at that time at open war with this country, and it was contended that this could be no offence, because we had a right to put an enemy to death. "Yes," said Lord Ellenborough, "you have a right to put an enemy to death, but only in a legal way, in open war and by force of arms; you have no right to assassinate him, and no one has a right to make a bargain that might by probability lead to such an outrage on all law." The decision in this case was given on the broad principle that any act which could encourage, or had a tendency, however remote, to encourage assassination of a foreign Sovereign, even though an enemy, was illegal in this country. He was sorry to hear from his noble Friend that there were refugees in this country who combined and conspired together in a way that had a tendency to encourage attempts on the life of foreign Princes. He believed that if there was sufficient evidence of such proceedings the law was sufficient to suppress them; but if it was not sufficient to prevent such cabals, then the law ought to be amended. He begged to repeat, however that there was no doubt that if any persons met together either in public o, private meetings, or issued publication and set forth doctrines that led not morel to a general and abstract defence of mur- der and assassination, but to the most mischievous act of attempting that assassination, then the parties so offending were liable to prosecution, and, if convicted, would be severely punished. Without the commission of any overt act such person might be punished. It had been said we had a law in England that made compassing and imagining the death of the Sovereign high treason; why not make the compassing and imagining the death of a foreign Prince high treason also? But it was evident that they could not charge a person with high treason unless they could get forth in the indictment the commission of an overt act—that overt act being necessary to prove the "compassing and imagining" the death. In the prosecution of the regicides for the death of Charles I., they were indicted for "compassing and imagining the death of our late Sovereign Lord of blessed memory Charles I.," and the overt act laid in the indictment was the cutting off the head of the Sovereign, an overt act, no doubt, quite sufficient to sustain the allegation of compassing and imagining; but they were not indicted for the act itself. In the case of a foreign Sovereign a difficulty was here felt that could hardly be got over, and for his part he did not see how it could be met. With regard to an alteration of the law affecting the general case, reference had been made to a revival of the Alien Act, and in order to put an end to proceedings so offensive and mischievous it might possibly be considered whether a modified revival of that Act could not be resorted to; but he entertained the strongest objection to some of its provisions, and he would not consent to re-enact them except in the most modified form. The old Alien Act was attended with many abuses and grievances, one of which was the sending parties abroad to the very places from which they had escaped, so that they were hurled, as it were, into the lion's mouth. One consequence of this state of things was that debtors often put the law in force against their creditors, and got them sent abroad as aliens, so that sometimes persons were carried back to France during the reign of terror, and were guillotined. He would leave such persons to make choice of the place to which they would be sent, and if any such law was resorted to, it would be absolutely necessary to be under great modification, including this freedom of choice. He was quite sure the law of this country was sufficient severely to punish such acts as those most complained of, and he trusted Her Majesty's Government would see the necessity of putting it in force as soon as they had proof to support a prosecution.


said, that as he had the honour to be the head of the criminal jurisdiction in this country, he thought he was called on to make a few observations on this very important subject. For his part, he did most sincerely and earnestly deprecate any change in the criminal law which would extend the power of the Government over refugees who sought ant asylum in this country. By the law as it now stood the Government had all the power they ought to have. If persons belonging to the class of refugees committed offences while in this country let them be punished; but until they were proved guilty let them enjoy the hospitality and protection afforded by the English laws. There could be no doubt that as the law now stood, a conspiracy in this country, between British subjects as well as between aliens, to assassinate a foreign Sovereign, or to commit murder, or to disturb the peace between this country and any other with which we might be in amity, would be a misdemeanour liable to severe punishment. And not merely a conspiracy, but the acts of individuals, directly tending to disturb the amity subsisting between this country and a foreign State would be punishable. There could be no doubt that words might amount for that purpose to a misdemeanour. If there was an exhortation to commit a murder or a burglary, or to raise a riot, that would be in England a misdemeanour, and the moment the speaker had finished his speech he might be arrested and tried. He (Lord Campbell) had had the honour to be a law officer of the Crown for many years, and the only ex officio information he filed was against the late Feargus O'Connor for exhorting people in his newspaper, called The Northern Star, to plunder their superiors; he (Mr. O'Connor) said the land was the property of the nation at large, and ought to be equally divided among all the people of this country; and not only did he advance that speculative opinion, which, as such, might have been harmless, but he exhorted the people to rise and take possession of their share of the national property. The result was that he was tried and convicted in the Court of Queen's Bench, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. So the deliberate exhortation of an individual, either by writing or spoken words, to murder a foreign Sovereign would be a misdemeanour and it would make no difference whether the individual was a native-born subject or an alien resident in England. Where was the ground for changing the existing law? Were they to say that the Government should have the power, immediately upon the requisition of a foreign State, without any proof of culpability whatever, to expel an alien from the British territory? In that case, the law must be changed indeed;—but God forbid they should ever make such a change! In this country aliens as well as native-born subjects were always to be considered the subjects of Her Majesty; and while they were in this country and obeyed the law they were to be protected as much as if they were born in the metropolis of England. He hoped that would continue to be the principle on which all our legislation on that subject proceeded. It was the ground on which England had hitherto been the asylum of foreigners of all nations, and he hoped that asylum would never be taken away. If, however, there were anomalies in the law, or if there were diversities in the law of different parts of the United Kingdom, he would not oppose such alterations as might be necessary to reconcile them; but if a law were proposed to deprive aliens of the rights they now enjoyed, he would most strenuously resist it.


said, he wished the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War had remained in his place, inasmuch as he was desirous of asking him some questions in reference to the defences of the country. He did not allude to those defences in reference to any particular power or occasion, but as regarded the general situation of the country. It should be remembered that we had already lost an army in India which was heretofore at the service of the State. We were called upon to send out another army there, which must necessarily be taken from the strength of the force in this country. Well, we had not as yet replaced that army at home. The Secretary for War stated that he was quite satisfied with the condition of our military forces; but he did not state whether the army now at our command was sufficient for the operations required of them, and for the restoration of peace and security abroad. His own opinion was, that the army in India was much too weak for the purposes required of them; and if his noble Friend could do no more than supply that army with recruits, it would, he believed, fall short of the necessity of the case. But the country, in the meantime, was almost denuded of regular troops. From his side of the House they had frequently urged upon the Government to take the most effective measures against India by transporting the troops as rapidly overland as possible. They had further recommended the calling out of the whole of the militia. He was still of opinion that the whole of the militia should be embodied without any further delay. It was ridiculous to haggle about the question of recruits when the militia could be called out. What we wanted was an army of protection, embodied within the country. Then, after they had done all that they proposed, they would be forced to form a new army in England for all the exigencies of the State. Now the navy, with the militia, was the national defence of the country; but the present condition of the navy was really contemptible. He did not think he was telling anything new to foreign Powers on this subject; for there was not one which did not know, from our Navy Lists and other publications, every ship that was put in commission. He said that the present condition of our naval force was contemptible; but, instead of keeping even this small force at home, the Government were occupying it in a contemptible war. He had always contended—not from any feeling of pride, or disposition to attack the Government—that this war with China was one of the most contemptible and disgraceful that had ever been waged. It deprived the country of its commerce. Our merchants at Shanghae were in danger of being ejected from that place, and our tea trade was altogether endangered. Like children, the Government had commenced the war under a sham admitted by all. They went with this sham before the country, and obtained fictitious strength. They undertook the bombardment of Canton, with its million of inhabitants—one of the most barbarous acts ever committed in ancient or modern times; and, when they obtained their object, they meant to put into it 1,000 marines and 600 Frenchmen, to hold the city in future against millions of the Chinese population. Of all the contemptible proceedings ever attempted, none was more contemptible than the attempt to hold the place with such a force against a great though an unwarlike nation. They could not expect to gain anything by such a step, except to rob this country of a portion of its trade, and the defence of a portion of its navy. He regretted that the noble Lord (Lord Panmure) was not in his place, as he meant to ask what he intended to do with regard to the defences of the country, because those defences were not in a condition they ought to be in, even under the most ordinary circumstances. He feared that none of the noble Lords opposite could much enlighten him as to the state of the army and navy, and should, therefore, wait for a future opportunity to put a question on the subject of the national defences.

Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at a quarter past Seven o'clock, till To-morrow. half past Four o'clock,